School abductions in Chibok and Zamfara, Nigeria : the nexus between gender, terror and official responses
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School abductions in Nigeria have received global attention since 2014. Although several studies exist on gender-based terrorism in Nigeria, none has sought to understand the relationship between gender, gender constructions, terror directed towards women and girls, and official responses. This thesis, therefore, addresses gender-based terrorism in Nigeria by focusing on responses to terror on women and the girl-child. Specifically, it analyses how gender and gender constructions influenced extremist groups in Nigeria to perpetrate violence against women and girls and what responses this generated from officials nationally and internationally. The research used both primary and secondary data. The primary data was collected through semi-structured interviews with academics, journalists, officials in Nigeria, and national and international organizations. The secondary data was sourced from academic publications, video material, reports, and other information released by non-governmental organizations, the media, and state institutions in Nigeria. The findings indicate that the socio-cultural fabric of the Nigerian society influenced the reasons for and rationale behind abductions of women and girls in the country. The study found that the socio-cultural fabric of the Nigerian society had created a sense of value for women and girls, which made extremist organizations in the country regard them as, firstly, a vital economic tool for bargaining and wealth making and, secondly, as a source of achieving group cohesion and loyalty among the extremists. The research also found that official responses to the cases under study were influenced by many factors, including gender, education, human rights abuses and forced separation from families; they also reflected concern with the rise of the Islamic State (IS) coupled with the objectives of Boko Haram. Moreover, the construction of gender and gender relations was connected to terror directed towards women and girls, and to the official responses to terror, through the unequal social and power relation, and the sense of value conditioned by the construction of gender, which created an avenue for extremists to exploit women and girls for their strategic advantage. Therefore, the study argues that fostering societal transformation, promotion of gender-sensitive prevention of violent extremism, and the enactment of comprehensive legislation are key factors in challenging gender-based violence, including terror. Overall, the thesis contributes to the growing literature on gender-based terrorism and the growing number of studies in international relations that focus on gender.